PUPILS are set to ace their game after a tennis equipment lending library was launched in a pioneering scheme which has helped transform Rockwood Academy.
Over a thousand pounds worth of equipment is now available on loan to pupils at the school, run by CORE Education Trust.
The kit, which pupils can borrow to use to play tennis in their own time at home or in their local park with their families, was unveiled during a visit by the Lawn Tennis Associationâ€™s (LTA) President Cathie Sabin.
It comes after Rockwood Academy was among just 21 schools across the UK to have been named a School of Tennis in March 2016. The scheme is to be rolled out to 150 schools across the UK by 2018 and has been backed by the LTA.
The initiative, by leading charity the Tennis Foundation, aims to radically change the way tennis is delivered in schools â€“ making it more relevant and engaging for children from all backgrounds while also attempting to rid it of its elitist image.
In April, education watchdog Ofsted credited this partnership with the Tennis Foundation and the LTA as being among the â€œpioneeringâ€ work which has helped to remove Rockwood Academy from special measures.
The school has now been deemed by Ofsted as â€˜goodâ€™ and last month clinched an award for being among the best schools in the country for pupil progress.
LTA President Cathie Sabin said: â€œThis tennis programme is a true example of the transformative power of sport offering students the opportunity not just to play tennis at school but develop a whole range of life affirming skills.
â€œThe School of Tennis initiative aims to transform how tennis is delivered in schools. At Rockwood Academy they are using the programme to broaden the horizons of their students and to provide access to a range of experiences beyond their local community.
â€œThe tennis programme will also enable the students to gain access to, and expertise in, tennis and offer a range of leadership and enrichment opportunities for students.
â€œI was thrilled to be able to visit the school to see the programme in action.â€
Under the scheme, teachers have been trained to be tennis coaches while a REBO tennis wall has been installed at Rockwood Academy and pupils have become tennis ambassadors for their school.
Fuzel Choudhury, Principal of Rockwood Academy, said: â€œWe are always striving to give our pupils the very best education across the curriculum.
â€œBeing a School of Tennis opens so many doors to pupils who may otherwise not have experienced or have had access to the sport.
â€œThe new equipment will make a real difference and will undoubtedly help them to grow both in terms of their abilities and their sense of pride.â€
Adrian Packer, CEO at CORE Education Trust, said: â€œWe were absolutely delighted to receive a visit from Cathie Sabin to to show her how committed and passionate we are about giving our pupils access to tennis.
â€œI donâ€™t want our students to have the misconception that tennis is an elitist sport that is only available to a privileged few.
â€œThe Tennis Foundation is bold and uncompromising in its aspiration to make tennis accessible to young people from all backgrounds and we are proud to support its important work to broaden and strengthen tennis participation in schools.
â€œWe are equally proud that this partnership has helped us on our journey of improvement.â€
The equipment is being loaned to the Trust in association with Surrey-based Qualco, a leading provider of panel and asset management software and analytics.
The business is also a Gold Tournament Patron for the Aegon Classic Birmingham tennis tournament being staged at Edgbaston Priory Club until June 19th.
Christian Jacob, Managing Director at Qualco, said: â€œWe are delighted to have been involved in this worthy cause.
â€œIt has been great fun to go into the school and meet the students who will benefit from the new lending library.
â€œWe hope that the local community is inspired to play more tennis more often.â€